Increasing milk supply
The best thing to do to increase your milk supply is to make sure that baby is latched on correctly and sucking well at the breast.
It helps to:
- Allow your baby to take longer feeds at the breast (sometimes babies are removed before they have completely finished a feed)
- Rest as much as possible
- Spend a lot of time in close contact with your baby – rest at the same time.
There are some herbal remedies that may seem to help increase milk supply. Many health-food shops and herbal dispensaries make special teas to help increase mother’s milk. These often contain fenugreek and blessed thistle.
It may help to remove more milk using a breast pump – this will increase your milk supply, but you should seek advice first to see if this is the best option.
Taking herbs to increase milk supply
A galactagogue is defined as a substance that increases a mother’s breast milk supply. Many mothers drink herbal galactagogue teas on a regular basis. These contain mixtures of herbs reported to be useful for producing more milk. Most of these teas are bought from health food shops and do not require a prescription.
Before turning to herbal remedies, it’s useful to eliminate latching and sucking problems, increasing the frequency of breastfeeding and have your breastfeeding assessed.
Medications that increase milk supply
Occasionally mothers are given a medication to increase breast-milk supply, usually domperidone (Motilium). This isn’t an option until other breastfeeding issues have been evaluated – it only works if milk is being effectively removed, either by baby or breast pump.
Midwives can prescribe this medication during the first six weeks of baby’s life and many GPs will also prescribe this medication when necessary.
Domperidone is not approved for use in New Zealand to increase milk supply; therefore the Ministry of Health cannot conclude that it is safe or effective when used for this purpose. Although most side effects of domperidone treatment are mild, it has been rarely associated with serious heart rhythm abnormalities.
Please talk to your midwife or doctor if you think you need help to increase your milk supply.
Another medication called Maxalon or Metoclopramide used to be used for increasing lactation. This medication has frequent side effects including anxiety and depression and is no longer recommended.
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